How to Clean Scratched Hardwood Floors


Maintaining hardwood floors is not as difficult as many homeowners fear. Hardwood resists spills and stains and takes fewer tools to keep clean than carpeted floors. Scratches are common in hardwood floors and must be repaired to maintain the integrity of the floor. Cleaning scratched hardwood floors will help minimize the appearance of old scratches and will help prevent new ones from forming.

Things You'll Need

  • Fine sandpaper Mineral spirits Rag Wood filler Putty knife Varnish Paint brush Broom and dustpan Hardwood cleaner Mop Bucket
  • Sand scratches with fine sandpaper. Rub the sandpaper back and forth with the grain of the wood to even out the scratch. Don’t sand against the grain or you’ll have more scratches to repair. Wipe the area with a rag dampened in mineral spirits to remove dust after sanding.

  • Apply a thin coat of wood filler to the scratch with a putty knife. Stir the putty inside the jar with the edge of the knife to combine, and press it into the scratch. Allow the putty to dry overnight, then sand the edges to remove excess putty.

  • Brush a layer of varnish over the filled cracks. Clear varnish is best as it will match the existing flooring and will not stain the wood. Use a natural bristled paint brush to prevent air bubbles during application. Leave the spot to dry for at least 24 hours to allow the varnish to harden.

  • Sweep the entire floor to remove dirt and grime from the wood. The broom should have soft bristles to avoid adding additional scratches to the surface. Pick up all foreign material with the dustpan and dispose of it in the garbage.

  • Pour 4 oz. hardwood floor cleaner in a bucket and add 1 gallon of water. Dampen your mop in the cleaner and mop the floor, working with the grain of the wood to prevent streaking. Make sure to wring the mop out well to prevent too much water from soaking into the wood.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can use a vacuum cleaner on the floor if there is a large amount of mud or grime on the surface.
  • Never use ammonia-based cleaners on hardwood floors. Ammonia is very strong and the scent can seep into the wood, leaving a lingering odor throughout your home.

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  • Photo Credit hardwood floor texture image by GoodMood Photo from
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